The story below is a part of YMyHealth’s Making a Healthy Office Comeback series. As more millennials return to the office or transition to hybrid work schedules in 2021 and 2022, we will be highlighting the concerns and health challenges Generation Y tells us they are facing and feature advice from millennial experts on how to maintain your healthy habits.
For most of us, the company picnic, ice cream socials for workers in your office building on a hot summer day, and free food delivered to your team to reward them for their hard work, bring back fond memories of office life. But what was and still is their common purpose?
They are opportunities to socialize with your colleagues and meet new people working in your department while getting some great food free of charge—things we once looked forward to in our pre-pandemic lives. Now, they also present unique challenges that millennials and others find deeply concerning—worries about being able to socially distance in enclosed spaces with colleagues, large groups of people not wearing masks to eat, the cleanliness of food preparation, and peer pressure to eat unhealthy foods in order to be able interact with others.
The millennial nutritionist, Illa Garcia, MS, RD, LDN, has a lot of clients who are actually really afraid of this as they transition back to in-person work environments and afraid of losing their good pandemic eating habits in order to be a part of the group. For example, many of the teachers in their 20s, 30s, and now 40 who she has worked with on their transitions back to teaching in person get offered a lot of food for free at their schools but mostly what they are offered involves high-calorie foods.
To help her teacher clients and the rest of us once again enjoy social eating with our colleagues but stay healthy, she offers three key pieces of advice:
1. Remember How You Felt When You Were Eating Well
A lot of what Garcia has talked about with her clients is to just take a second and think about how you know that you were feeling better when you were eating fruits and vegetables, and not high-calorie, processed foods. Remember that as you look at the unhealthy foods in front of you that are tempting and honestly evaluate how you are going to feel after eating them.
2. Bring Your Own Food
This is key! People are typically more successful if they bring their own food, Garcia finds. If you can bring your own snacks, it’s better because if people around you are eating donuts and cookies, it doesn’t feel really good not to be involved.
But if you can bring your own fruit, low-calorie cookies or something like that, not only can you still eat healthy, but you can control the cleanliness of the food preparation on top of it. Doing things this way, you can still eat with everybody and you don’t have to feel like you’re not involved. Instead, you can be involved with the group, but on your own terms, making you feel more comfortable and eating with colleagues will not be awkward.
3. Drink Enough Water
Finally, make sure you drink enough water. It will really help you to not overeat or not get into those cravings if they are there to tempt you to eat unhealthily.
For more tips on how to navigate health challenges as you return to the office or start a hybrid work schedule, visit our Making a Healthy Office Comeback page. And for more tips from Illa, check out the first blog in our series.